Ravensburger Break Free Game – Review

Break Free from Ravensburger is a fast paced interactive game best suited to ages 6+.  It involves chaining yourself up in a handcuff which is attached via a chain to other players and then being the first to unpick the lock and Break Free.

The Break Free game pieces consists of 4 special padlocks with chains, 12 unique locking puzzles that you insert in the to base of the handcuff – 4 of each level, 4 lockpicks and 12 tokens.  To play the game all players (can be played by 1 to 4 at a time) put one of the puzzle pieces (green for easy, yellow for a bit harder and red for tricky) into their padlock then attach the padlock to their wrist. You clip all the ends of the chains together and are then ready to begin.

The idea is in each round, the first player to unpick their lock, takes the highest numbered token, the next player takes the next highest token and so forth.  So the first round you all start with green which is the easiest and work upwards.

What I really liked about this game is that all four of us could join in, mummy, daddy, 10yr old and 8yr old.  We were really were all at equals trying to unpick the locks and although sometimes you though you got the knack, in the next round you would struggle again.

It certainly got competitive with everyone eager to unlock their padlocks and be the first!

Another aspect that I liked about this Ravensburger Break Free game is that within each level, all the lock puzzles have different sequences within them, so if someone works out a quick way to turn their pick to make their way through the lock, then if you play the game again and mix the pieces up, they are likely to have a different route to follow to unpick the lock which keeps everyone on their toes.

Even though the 8yr old got a little frustrated on the harder levels at times, you can see he is thrilled here when he beat his older sister.  The kids also loved it when daddy got stuck sometimes just going round in circles and not actually unlocking his handcuff so they had to help unpick his lock at the end – of course mummy succeeded in coming in the top two places in most rounds!

Break Free by Ravensburger is a fun family game that all ages can join in or the kids can just play alone.  My boy even enjoyed having a go on his own although I think he was trying to hone his unpicking technique for future rounds.  We like this with it’s fast paced competitiveness and the excitement it brings – a good one to add to Santa’s list I think!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Mix-Up Clay – the Non-Messy Craft Activity – Review

Mix-Up Clay from Alphabet Pie is a unique mess free clay and colouring tints that are a winner with kids and adults alike.  It’s hard to imagine a substance that doesn’t make a mess especially when colour is involved so I had the art mat on the table in case but actually the Mix-Up Clay proved to be as clean and friendly as it suggested and a great pliable play substance for all ages.  My 7 and 10 yr olds were both keen to have a go so I divided the pack of clay between them and let them create!

They found the white Mix-Up Clay substance to be very lightweight, soft and easy to manipulate making it suitable for really young ones.  They loved pulling it apart, rolling it into balls and seeing how far they could stretch it. The tints are incredible, you just take a small piece on the end of your finger and mix it into the white clay and knead it around until the colour spreads throughout.  By adding further tint you can strengthen the colours to form really bright bold colourways.  You are given the three primary colours along with black and this enables you to create any colour you want, so for example my children mixed a bit of yellow and blue tint on a piece of clay to create green.

It wasn’t long before shapes started forming and my 7yr old began with some eyes for his creation.  He decided to make some fruit shapes, an apple and banana whilst the 10yr old make a monster!

I have to say I’m really impressed with their finished clay pieces which then require around 6 hours drying time.  The whole process couldn’t be more simple and mess free – mould your clay, colour it as you wish, then let you design air dry!  Throughout the entire process your fingers stay clean, non sticky and don’t pick up any of the colour of the tints.  The clay doesn’t crumble into little pieces as you pull it apart so you really do end up with a mess free table as well as clean hands – a fantastic unique product that I’ve not come across before.

The finished designs are really lightweight, almost with a foam like weight to them so it’s easy for children to carry them around without them being too delicate.  My impressions of Mix-Up Clay are very favourable and it definitely kept my two children occupied for a while and they both loved it’s ease of use in both manipulating the clay and also the simple ability to colour it.  I love it due to it’s mess free nature and it’s definitely something I’d purchase again for them, perfect for indoor crafting any time, any day!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Incredibles 2 100 Piece Puzzle from Ravensburger

Incredibles 2 is due out in cinema’s on 13th July 2018 and brings us the fun loving family of superheroes who love to fight crime and beat the villains.  With baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superhero powers it’ll be fun to see how he gets on in this adventure helping the others.  To celebrate the release, Ravensburger have produced this fun new 100 piece puzzle aimed at 6 years plus.

My boy aged 7 was excited when he saw this and couldn’t wait to get started.  I know he is able to do this unaided and despite him asking for help initially, I just verbally guided him and let him put all the pieces in place.  He started with the edges and soon got to grips with finding pieces and before long was flying along at his own pace.

The finished Incredibles 2 puzzle is a really good size and looks great on the floor or table.  The individual pieces are also well sized and great for little hands.  The size of the pieces also allows for more recognition of what area of the puzzle it may belong too, e.g. the writing across the bottom was easy to spot on pieces and one of the first edges my boy completed.

As you can see my boy was thrilled to complete the puzzle and felt proud that he had achieved it all by himself.  I love watching them do simple things like puzzles as it gets their brain working and takes them away from technology for a while.

On the other hand, don’t forget to head to the big screen from 13th July onwards to catch the new Incredibles 2 film and see the adventures of this superhero family in action!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

5 Reasons to Replace Your Lawn with Artificial Grass

Artificial grass has come a long way in the last few years and is increasingly popular for those of us that aren’t overly keen on garden maintenance as it offers the look of a fresh green luscious lawn but without the ugly weeds and most importantly the need to cut the grass on a regular basis.

With young children around who always want to play outside then I can definitely see several advantages to having artificial grass in your garden and so here’s my top 5 reasons for converting your traditional lawn to artificial grass:

  1. MAINTENANCE FREE – no need to mow the lawn and keep the kids out the way of the electrical wires whilst doing so.
  2. NO WEEDING – Your artificial lawn will be hassle free, no weeding and feeding to keep you lawn in optimum condition.  It will look perfectly green and clean no matter the weather – no fading blades during the Summer – just a luscious green lawn all year round.
  3. POLLEN FREE – Say NO to allergies with artificial grass, your sneezes and runny eyes will be a thing of the past with a lawn free of pollen pests.
  4. KIDS CAN PLAY – Normally I wait until my lawn has dried out after a shower before I let the kids out to play to prevent the grass turning into a soggy, muddy mess.  With fake grass you can let them out as soon the rain has passed knowing that your ‘lawn’ will stay as good as knew.
  5. NO MUDDY FOOTPRINTS IN THE HOUSE – well this has got to be a bonus, dragging mud and dirt through the house has to be one of my kids favourite pastimes but with artificial grass, dirt will be kept to a minimum and there certainly shouldn’t be any signs of muddy footprints entering the house!

So if the points above haven’t convinced you to try out some artificial grass in your garden then I don’t know what will but what I do know is that these days you have a pretty amazing choice of of styles and designs to choose from, be it short and neat, long and tufty, thick and rich – the choice really is yours and that also means that even if your next door neighbour opts for artificial grass too, then their garden won’t look the same as there’s so many varieties out there now.  If  you are thinking about a clean style and maintenance free future for your garden then check out artificial grass now!

This is a sponsored post.

Head Over Heels Gymnastics – Books & DVD Review

Head over Heels Gymnastics is a fantastic new way to learn, practice and perfect your gymnastics skills in your own home.  Whether you are a beginner, a bit more advanced, have lessons already or just want to learn alone from home, then these guides for children are incredibly user friendly, simple to follow and progress at a good rate to see your child learn, improve and be challenged!

We received Head over Heels Gymnastics Volume 1: Boys & Girls Floor Skills book which really does incorporate all the moves a young gymnast will encounter in there first few years.  My daughter has been attending weekly gymnastics lessons for the last couple of years and loves it so much that she practices at home (notably with headstands on her bed, and feet up against the painted wall) when she is able.  The book is extremely well thought out and has been designed perfectly for someone to follow step by step to ensure they get the move/position correct.

The first major bonus of this book is the spiral binding of the book along with the fact that it has a 3D element that allows it to stand up so you can view it as you perform the moves – this is a fantastic feature and really enables the book to be used as you practice.

The book is very clearly laid out with a contents page so you can go directly to the skill you wish to practice or if you start from the beginning it takes you through a warm up then gradually guides you from simple moves to those more challenging and even helps you with mini routines at the end.  What I like about this book is that it comes with full colour photographic pictures guiding you through each move so you can see exactly how to perform and accomplish them to your best ability.  The step by step guides are brilliant and I can’t fault them, you can see every move, there are arrows to guide you and in some cases crosses to show you if you are doing the wrong thing. I also love the ‘post it’ style notes that give you all the hints and tips you need to perfect the move.

As much as my daughter is ultra sporty and partakes in all sports be it rugby, football, swimming, athletics etc. her elegance has never been her strongest point but I love the fact that she enjoys gymnastics as it gains her a lot of strength and flexibility skills. So here is her interpretation of some of the gymnastic skills from the Head over Heels Gymnastics book.

She loved doing this in the garden as she had more room and could run around doing things like cartwheels as well which I usually dread when she does indoors as I fear her feet hitting the light fittings!  She was able to see the book and flip over the page as she wished.

We also received a dvd Volume 3: The Floor Beam which is equally as fanatastic as the book. Even if you don’t have any sort of floor beam at home, you can simply use your floor.  We just put two gym mats down leaving a gap in between which represented the beam and my daughter tried to stay in the gap. What I liked about the dvd are that there are various age children showing you the moves and you can literally just copy and follow them as they do things.  It’s really broken down step by step and moves at a slow pace guiding you as you go.  Miss M has had a few tries at this and enjoys following it.  I was surprised by how much content is on it and think for anyone child who really wants to gain experience then this is a great dvd to have to practice at home with.

Overall I have to say I’m impressed with the Head over heels about… Gymnastics! set of books and dvds.  There’s very little in the way of books to guide you in this sport so this really a unique range and across the set there really is something for every little budding gymnast out there – so go check them out!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Meccano 10 in 1 Rally Racer – Review

Meccano 10 in 1 Rally Racer is a fabulous kit with ten different variants on the build along with a Meccablock motor inside so your vehicles can travel along once built.  With a suggested age of 8+ this is great for those keen to build and improve on their S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills.

With 159 parts to the Rally Racer from Meccano, some of them quite small, it’s a good idea to have some small pots or a tray to tip the bits onto, which not only helps you find what you need but prevents them from rolling off the table.

My 10yr old built this model herself completely unaided and was perfectly able to do so.  There are a few tricky parts to tighten up but if you use the tools provided then it makes it so much easier (as I had to remind her several times when she was trying to put bolt on in a place that was hard to reach!).

The build is fairly straight forward for someone used to this kind of construction but is also satisfying once built.  Not only does this set produce a model, but it’s a working model and if you put batteries inside of the motor you can actually allow your vehicle to move along by itself!

My daughter was thrilled with her first build and is delighted to find that when she breaks it apart she doesn’t have to build the same one again as there are nine other different variations on the model to try.

This Meccano set is great in all aspects, it’s quality pieces, it’s fun to build, you can build multiple variants of the model and it’s packed with loads of S.T.E.M. skills for your child to think about and use during the creation.

My daughter loves these Meccano sets and finds they hold her interest and she’s always keen to see the end design.  With an rrp of £19.99 this can be found at most good retailers so keep your eye out for a great value product and toy that mid range kids will love!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Alvin & the Chipmunks 100 Piece Ravensburger Puzzle

Alvin & the Chipmunks 100 piece puzzle by Ravensburger is a great size for young children and depending on their age its one they can do by themselves.  My 7yr old is a massive Alvin fan and I set the task of him completing this by himself as I knew he was able and I think puzzles are a great stimulation for the brain and take children away from screen time.

Eager to start, I encouraged my boy to look for corners and edge pieces first, but you know what children are like.  He found bits of the drum right in the middle so decided to start there, but he was happy and completing on his own so I let him get on with it.  I checked on his progress every so often and encouraged him to keep him motivated.  He was actually really excited doing it and I had a full running commentary about Alvin and his friends and how they play in the band in the tv show……..

Before long the puzzle was complete!

Once he had finished we admired the finished puzzle.  At approximately 49x36cm its really good size and is brightly coloured to aid completion but also looks eye catching for the child to enjoy.  Alvin & The Chipmunks is well loved here and this puzzle was a hit too.  He thoroughly enjoyed doing it, loved the sense of achievement of finishing it by himself and it was a great way to spend an hour or two when at home.

We love Ravensburger puzzles, they never fail to disappoint being of good quality with easy to fit pieces.  They have a wide choice of pictures and designs to choose from so if you are looking for a new challenge then check them out – kids love them!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Kersplatt! – The Fun Family Board Game

Kersplatt! is a fun new game release from Paul Lamond Games and one that has been thoroughly enjoyed here with the exciting aspect of splatting other players dough pieces!  The game consists of a brightly coloured playing board, a deck of cards and four coloured pots of dough.  Requiring 2-4 players and a suggested age of 6+, my two children aged 7 and 10 were keen to play along with mummy and daddy and see if they could splat our pieces and win.

The board for Kersplatt! is well made and folds into quarters for storing in the box.   Each player needs to choose a colour, red, blue, yellow or green and the idea is to make yourself some dough characters and move these around the board without being splatted.  Once you get two onto your home space you are declared the winner. To play you take turns in turning a card over and this determines your move to a space of either the colour or number you turn over.  Or you may turn a card that allows you to Kersplatt! another persons playing piece.  The kids loved this element of the game and thought it was hilarious splatting another player on the board.  All of the squashed pieces remain on the board and those squares are out of action which means it makes it quicker to get your pieces around to the home spaces as the game goes on.

With two kids ready to play, we got started.  With four of us playing it made it fun and competitive and was actually a game we all really enjoyed and would happily play again (well we already have a few times!).  The kids thought it was great to create your own pieces and we ended up with some fancy creations that they were sad to see get Kersplatted! but that’s the nature of the game.  A great family friendly game that is simple to play but fun and keeps kids entertained on rainy days, evenings or just when you are looking for something exciting to play!

For your chance to win a copy of the board game Kersplatt!, just fill in the entry form below:

Kersplatt! game

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Win Vosene Kids Fruity 2in1 Shampoos

The Vosene kids range of hair care is always a winner with my two it smells great, leaves hair clean and soft and gives a nice lather when washing allowing you to create that ‘elfy’ look with it sticking up on your head before washing off again!

With two fruity flavours available in the 2 in 1, I found my daughter loved the strawberry and my son loved the melon (although they may just haved picked their favourite fruits) but at least it meant there is no arguing over who is using which one.

Vosene-2in1-ShampooStrawberry 2 in 1 Shampoo (RRP £1.99, 250ml)

 Lovingly developed for kids, our Strawberry 2 in 1 Shampoo will ensure your children’s locks smell as good as they look. With a fresh, fruity strawberry scent, the whole family will appreciate the burst of natural fruit extract which also helps to leave your children’s hair soft and tangle-free.

Image result for melon 2 in 1 fruity goodness vosene kids

Melon 2 in 1 Shampoo (RRP £1.99, 250ml)

Our fresh Melon 2 in 1 Shampoo adds a fruity twist to bath time, resulting in soft and great-smelling hair which is free from tangles and knots. Your kids will love the fresh, fruity melon smell of this mild and pH balanced 2 in 1 shampoo.

Having used the Vosene brand on my kids for a number of years now, I can honestly say it’s reliable and effective and one that kids enjoy to use.  The fruity fragrances always help appeal to them.

If’d you like the chance to try it out for yourself then I have two bottles (one of each flavour) to give away to one of my readers.  If you’d like to enter then just feel out the Gleam form below:

Vosene

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review. 

Smartick – The Online Learning App for Maths

Smartick is an online Maths learning programme and unlike other apps, it uses artificial intelligence to adapt to each child’s style of learning.  With only a 15 minute daily session allowed, it means that children won’t get bored, fed up, and encourages them to perform their daily questions in order to earn stars which they can spend at the end of each lesson on things such avatars and items for their online house.

Each day starts with a welcome and series of faces to see how the child is feeling along with the child’s own avatar that they can customise through their earning of stars.

It then goes into a series of questions which start off easing the child into a topic, breaking it down simply with pictorial questions if needed, then moving onto the same thing but in a different way.  If a key pad is required, it will pop up in the corner of the screen, otherwise things can be dragged across the touch screen.

You are expected to let your child get on with this on their own which I did 100% of the time although I did watch over their shoulder a few times in order to write this review.  The programme works intuitively and won’t move your child onto harder problems the next time if they struggled to grasp something this time.  At the end of each session the child also gets a chance to retry the questions that they get wrong along with receiving extra stars of course!
The end result of each session is that the child receives a number of stars.  This acts as an incentive for them as they get to finish the session and try to get things correct otherwise they won’t have stars to spend at the end. They can then use these to buy things to decorate their room, by virtual pets, presents for other players and clothes for their avatar.
What I particularly like about this programme is that I can log on to my online account and see how each of my children are getting on.  But even better than that is that I receive an email everyday either reminding me that my child hasn’t yet done their daily session “This message is to inform you that Blake hasn’t completed today’s session yet.”  Also immediately after every session completed an email comes in to let me know the kind of questions they have been working on along with their scores.  I find this incredibly useful and interesting and it saves me having to log in and check for myself.
Seeing this also encourages me to get them to use the app as I can see the benefits of it and see that they are learning as they play, although it’s not strictly a game, they do actually enjoy answering the questions and have more fun spending their stars earnt at the end.
Smartick has been a fun learning tool that has had a lot of use between my children and I encourage them to complete their daily questions as often as possible.  They don’t find it boring and actually enjoy using it, I think due to the short sessions and the fun way the tasks are presented. Smartick allows your child to move ahead faster than in school because it does not follow the national curriculum nor the Key Stage system so I’ll be interested to see how my children improve at school over the year, so far all is good and if they are happy to do Smartick then I’m more than happy to let them!
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received access to the product in order to write an honest review.